News Release

Latter-day Saints in Tahiti Deliver Over 8,000 Masks to the Capital City

Church members partner with City to get ready for new waves of visitors arriving since border opening

Members of the Pape’ete Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented over 8,400 protective cloth face masks to Michel Buillard, mayor of Pape’ete, Tahiti on 31 July 2020.

A stake is a Latter-day Saint term meaning a group of congregations in a geographical area.

Following discussions with the city leaders of Pape’ete in April, the stake launched a vast project to sew masks as its contribution to fight against the spread of COVID-19. Members from all wards (congregations) in the stake worked for the past two months to produce the masks, which have now been donated, for use by their fellow citizens.


“This project is our answer to Church President Russell M. Nelson's call to the Polynesian members during his visit in May 2019,” said Bruno Ercoli, stake president.

“President Nelson invited us to be part of the solution and not a problem for our society. This action is a way for our members to be part of the solution for our mayor and to protect our society, especially the citizens of our capital city. We gave the masks to the mayor himself, because we believe he is in the best position to organise the distribution of masks according to the needs of his citizens. We must not hide nor fear with the opening of the borders, but we should be prepared."

Funding for the project came from donations locally and overseas to the Church’s Humanitarian Fund.

Monique Chong Tam, president of the stake Relief Society, the women’s organization of the Church, led the project and coordinated the sewing of the masks with the volunteers.

“More than 50 women readily volunteered not only to come and help at the chapel, but also to sew at home to reach the target of 8,000 masks,” she said.

“We are proud to say that the reusable fabric masks sewn by our members meet all safety standards and they will contribute to protecting ourselves and our fellow residents.”

On 15 July, French Polynesia opened its borders to international visitors while implementing a strict emergency preparedness system to fight COVID-19. Each arriving passenger must have tested negative for COVID-19 before flying in and must perform a self-test on the fourth day after arrival.

Since 15 July, more than 6,000 people have completed this self-test. On 9 August, 13 positive cases were confirmed, bringing the official tally to 20 positive cases in Polynesia since the opening of the borders.

Remy Brillant, general manager of the municipality, explained, "Two months ago, we did not have any masks and the population kept asking for them. After discussions with the mayor, we decided to ask the Church for help in making 5,000 masks. We also worked in the neighbourhoods and we were able to get 6,000 more masks from there. The Church came back with 8,400 and altogether, we have a good stock that will help us if we need them."

Tavana (Mayor) Buillard noted, "We have had a long relationship with the Pape’ete Stake, but this kind of partnership is a first! We are grateful for this assistance as now we are ready and better prepared.”

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